Doctor of Medicine: A Meaningful Journey

17 Dec by Picholas Phoa

Doctor of Medicine: A Meaningful Journey

Doctor of Medicine (MD) is a very competitive and popular course of study, especially during this pandemic, where the healthcare workers such as doctors, nurses, and other hospital staffs are the frontliners in our battle against COVID-19 virus.

Nik Arif, 24 years old, is from Kota Bharu, Kelantan. He has recently graduated from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) with Degree in Doctor of Medicine in October 2020. We had the opportunity to interview him regarding his experience as medical student

Q: Who inspired you to take MD?

A: Initially my grandmother was the one who encouraged me to take MD. After entering the programme, I realise that medicine is not only about helping others, but also to learn about yourself, how your body works, and how people’s mind function. Medical profession is all about giving the best care and treatment, and also alternatives for those who needed to get back to their best, healthy form.

Q:What are the career opportunities available in MD?

A: After graduating MD, all graduates must go through another 2 years of compulsory training, also known as “housemanship”. After that, they can choose either to take the clinical or non-clinical route.

Typically clinical route involves furthering your study to Master in Medicine (MMed) for specialisation. Examples are Internal Medicine, Surgery, Paediatrics, Psychiatry, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and so on.

Non-clinical route, on the other hand, are lab-based such as Pathology, Haematology, Immunology and Microbiology. MD graduates can also further their career outside of hospital settings, for example as university lecturer, scientist, medical insurance agent, welfare, and law.

Q: What are the requirements to apply for this course?

A: For Doctor of Medicine, USM, the requirements are:

  • Pass matriculation/STPM/foundation with CGPA of 3.00; and
  • At least grade B (3.00) in the subjects biology, chemistry, and physics/mathematics; and
  • At least grade B in SPM level in the subjects biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics/additional mathematics, and other subjects; and
  • Score at least Band 3 in MUET; and
  • Passed the interview

However, in my opinion, majority of medical students scored 4.00 during their matriculation/STPM/foundation, in fact some 4-flat students did not even get an offer for medical school due to the competitive nature of MD. Thus, beside good academic achievements, I think it is important to be active in co-curricular activities  to stand out among other applicants.

Q: Can you please share us your experience with the interview?

A: USM adopts a unique interview format known as “Multiple Mini Interview” (MMI), whereby students have to move from station to station for every 10 minutes. Each stations are handled by different interviewers, and students are given tasks or situations in both English or Malay to assess your communication, problem-solving skills, and general knowledge.

Q: Are the classes being conducted differently in medical schools compared to other courses?

A: Yes, it is different. MD is divided into 2 main phases, namely pre-clinical and clinical phases.

In pre-clinical phase (year 1-2, 4 semesters) students will learn the foundation of medicine, such as anatomy, physiology, immunology, pathology, pharmacology, etc. These subjects are taught in “blocks” according to different systems, for example, respiratory system, cardiovascular system, neurological system, and more. Pre-clinical phase is important to prepare students to enter the next phase.

Clinical phase (year 3-5, 6 semesters) is where students are placed in different postings to receive clinical trainings. Students are required to interact with patients and staffs, do ward works, attend ward rounds, and more. In year 4 of study, students have the chance to choose any hospitals to do their elective posting.

Community and Family Case Study (CFCS) is a special program in USM syllabus whereby students are required to organize an interventional program and health awareness campaign, and to get involved in the local community for several weeks.

Q: What other activities did you participate during your studying period?

A: I was lucky to be able to be the organising committee of Karnival Kampus in November 2016. The theme was “Unity in Diversity” and our programmes include Cultural Night, Haunted House, Kids’ Emporium, Health and Fitness Expo, Sales Expo, and various sports tournaments such as futsal, frisbee, and rugby. The carnival was held for about 1 week.

For your information, the “Medical Intervarsity Games” (MIVG) was held annually, whereby medical students from both government and private universities compete in many sports. USM has been the overall champion for 2 consecutive years! As I have mentioned earlier, medical students are not only smart, they are multi-talented and athletic as well.

Q: What is your field of interest?

A: I am personally interested in the field of surgery, specifically plastic surgery.

Q: Do you have any advices for those who are interested in studying MD?

A: For all the teens that are still unsure of your choice of study and career, choose which profession you really like and wanted to be as you will be doing this for more than half of your lifetime. Find the things you enjoy doing and go for that. Always get advices from people who are more experienced to get to know in depth of the career, rather than knowing about it superficially from TV shows or online sources.

Q: Thank you for the advice.

A: You’re welcome. I hope my sharing helps.